It is common for children to fear health appointments. Just this week I was reminded of this at a dentist appointment for my girls. It can be scary going somewhere new and being examined. However, there are ways around making the appointments more relaxing for your child. Here are some ways to make them more fun and less stressful:
Use the same practitioner
We keep the same doctor, dentist, pediatric chiropractor, or any other health professional, so that our kids build a relationship with their health practitioners that makes them more comfortable over time. This will make appointments more calm.
Using the same practitioner as a family, you can all attend the appointment together, which can help your children feel more relaxed and less fearful of healthcare appointments.
Using the same practitioner will ensure that they understand your child’s fears and , can help to make the experience more fun and welcoming.
Talk to kids or play “dentist” or “doctors”
It can help your child to practice the experience at home before they go to the appointment so that they can feel familiar with it when they get there.
You could set up a station and tools, which replicate the experience at the practice. Allowing them to play with toy versions of the tools can make them realize that they are not scary. Therefore, they can feel like they are “playing” the game again when they are in a real situation. You could also just talk to them about what to expect so they know what is normal.
Bring a distraction or game
When your child is nervous, they might cry in the waiting room. To help their nerves and make the waiting room more fun (and distracting), it can help to bring a distraction. A toy or a game can help take their mind off of things and give them something else to focus on.
Practices will sometimes have games in the waiting rooms so that children can play. Bringing your own toys and games is acceptable.
Go often and early in the morning
Waiting a long time between appointments can make the trip to the doctors or dentist unfamiliar. The more you go, the more comfortable and familiar your child can be with the practice.
Also, the earlier in the day you go, the sooner you can get the experience out of the way. You can also avoid any tantrums from being overtired. Your child might get more anxious about the doctors if they have to wait until after school. Going frequently and earlier can help their nerves and make the trip seem more fun than scary.
Hope these tips help healthcare appointments seem less stressful for both kids and parents!